The clock is ticking. The time for homebuyers to take advantage of the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit has a shelf life that is getting ready to expire.
There is much speculation that the tax credit will be extended, but all indicators point to the fact that the end is near. If we’re surprised with an extension, then great. But we must toil on with the assumption that the credit will expire as originally planned.
Why would it not be extended? Because simply put, the economy is showing enough signs of improvement. Many government officials are skittish about continuing a program which was designed solely to help lift us out of last year’s economic collapse.
Even Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke recently said that the recession is “very likely over.” There is much debate over this viewpoint, but the very fact that it was said at all is a promising enough sign that may keep an extension for the tax credit off the table.
This means that the next 60 days is a huge opportunity for you. There is a market of people out there who can benefit from the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit who may not even know about it. This is your golden opportunity to educate them—and by doing so, put some numbers on the books before the winter season arrives.
Think about it. December 1, 2009 is the expiration date for taking advantage of the tax credit. That’s not a very long way away. Which is why it’s so important to get cracking right now so that the next 60 days are fruitful for both you and your clients. Heck, the looming expiration may actually motivate enough people that the next 60 days become the busiest 60 days of your entire year. It could happen.
But it’s up to you.
Here are some ideas to help you take advantage of this opportunity:
1. Send a letter to each and every client.
It is your duty as a real estate agent to keep your clients informed. Sending them information that is timely and relevant is a welcome piece of mail, not a nuisance. If anything, people are starved for information and all they get from agents are ads and flyers that have no relevance to what’s going on in the market right now.
Sending a well-crafted letter informing your clients that time is running out and they only have 60 days to save $8,000 will get you a few “thank-you”’s. I’m willing to bet there are quite a few people out there who aren’t aware of the 2009 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit. Not only that, but among those who do know about it, I’m willing to bet that some of that group don’t even know it has an expiration date.
Don’t worry about the fact that some of your clients aren’t first-time home buyers. They surely know people who are. Your letter may spark a dinner discussion with their children, grandchildren, friends, or other relatives. This, in turn, could lead to a phone call to you asking about how to get in on this deal before it’s over.
2. Locate a building full of potential first-time home buyers.
Find a building in your area full of renters who may be considering a property purchase. With a little digging, you will find buildings like this everywhere. There may be one right around the corner from you. You’re probably so accustomed to walking past it every day without thinking about who might be living there.
Send a postcard to every resident of that building informing them about the tax credit. Be short, sweet, and simple. Don’t oversell. Provide information and a way for them to contact you if they want more. That’s it.
Throw in a few advantages of owning over renting. Tie these into the current economy and highlight the fact that now is a fantastic time to make the leap to owning—especially in the next 60 days.
3. Hold a seminar for first-time home buyers.
Promote a seminar in your local newspaper. You can title it “$8,000 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Is About To Expire—How To Get In On This Deal Before It’s Too Late” or something similar.
4. Hold a teleconference.
You can do this in place of a seminar or alongside it. Some people who would never show up at a seminar might like the anonymity of being on a teleconference call without being seen or having to shake hands with a group of people.
Whatever your clients’ preferences, make it easy for them to get the information.
5. Get to Open Houses and have information with you.
Open Houses are a great place to disseminate information, regardless of whether or not you make a sale from the Open House itself. Start thinking about Open Houses as a self-promotional tool rather than a deal closer. When you do, you will be seen as an informative expert rather than a pushy salesperson.
People will love the fact that you took the time to put together information on a way for them to save $8,000. Use the advantage of having them in your presence to remind them of the fact that this money could be theirs—but only if they act fast.
You need to be where buyers are right now. You need to be doing whatever you can do to get the word out that you are here to help people save as much money as possible in the purchase of a new home. You need to remind people that time is of the essence.
So, get out there and start making the next 60 days the most productive 60 days of your year!
By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M.